Doctor Who Reactions: The Lost TV Episodes: Volume 1: 1964-1965

Marco Polo -
The Reign of Terror -
The Crusade -
Galaxy 4 -
The Myth Makers ---

Marco Polo, Episode 1: “The Roof of the World” --

Marco Polo is “less missing” than some of the other missing stories in that it has been reconstructed with photos and surviving audio footage on the first DVD set. Even so, that version is greatly abridged, condensing a full seven-parter into a mere thirty minutes. I will be the first to admit that some Doctor Who serials could stand some condensing, but although the DVD version is a good summary, so far I’ve found what was left out to add depth and characterization.

Broadcast very early in Doctor Who’s run, Marco Polo is only the fourth storyline, and the first ever historical (unless you count the one with the cavemen, which I don’t). Episode teaches lessons of science as well as history without being obvious or heavy-handed about it. the TARDIS has landed in 13th Century China and the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara have decided to travel with Marco Polo for a time. So far not much has happened other than introducing the characters and setting up the conflict.

Cliffhanger: Marco Polo decides to make a gift of the TARDIS to Kublai Khan.

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Marco Polo, Episode 2: “The Singing Sands”

The title of episode two refers to the sandstorm which assails the party as they make their way across the desert. I wouldn’t say these audios are quite like listening to a radio drama, but the more visual aspects of the episode are conveyed by linking script read by William Russell which makes the scenes that much more easy to visualize. There are two scenes in particular I don’t recall from the DVD version. First is a chess game between Marco Polo and Ian. Marco makes the usual comparison to war and states how each commander wishes to cry “Sha-mat.”

“Checkmate?” asks Ian.

“The King is dead,” replies Marco.

The other scene I like for a bit of dialogue between Susan and Barbara. Susan philosophically comments, “One day we’ll know all the mystery of the skies and we’ll stop our wandering,” to which Barbara replies, “Then you and I shall say goodbye.”

Travelling with the caravan is Tegana, emissary of a rival warlord supposedly suing for peace. Tegana spills the party’s water supply and heads north to an oasis. Doctor collapses from exhaustion and lack of water, and Marco give him and Susan permission to rest in the TARDIS where it’s cool.

Cliffhanger: At the oasis, Tegana symbolically spills water as a challenge to Marco Polo.
Marco Polo, Episode 3: “Five Hundred Eyes”

This episode’s science lesson is condensation, as the cool night air creates moisture on the inside walls of the TARDIS, creating water and saving their lives.

Travelling with Marco Polo’s caravan is Ping-Cho, a 16 year old girl who is betrothed to a 75 year old man and who befriends Susan. Ping-Cho relates the tale of the 250 hashashin warriors whose faces are painted on a cave mural (the “Five Hundred Eyes” of the episode’s title).

Cliffhanger: An eye in the mural moves and Susan freaks out!
Ping-Cho was played by Zienia Merton, who would later play Sandra Benes on Space: 1999.
I did not know that! She's made up on the still photos I've seen of Ping-Cho and I would not have recognized her, but she was cute as Sandra Benes.
Marco Polo, Episode 4: “The Wall of Lies”

More intrigue on the road to Cathay.

Cliffhanger: Ian attacks the lone sentry guarding them only to find he’s already dead!

Marco Polo, Episode 5: “Rider from Shang-Tu”

More intrigue on the road to Cathay.

Cliffhanger: As Susan crosses the courtyard on her way to the TARDIS, she is grabbed from behind!

Marco Polo, Episode 6: “Mighty Kublai Khan”

More intrigue on the road to Cathay.

Cliffhanger: Ian and Tegana square off to fight.

Marco Polo, Episode 7: “Assassin at Peking”

This is the episode that was broadcast on the day I was born.

I was stuck in traffic this morning and listened to all four of these episodes but was unable to take notes. All in all, “Marco Polo” was a very entertaining as well as very educational Doctor Who story. The CD also includes a disc of bonus materials such as interviews and PDF files.

BEGINNING TOMORROW: “The Reign of Terror”
"This is the episode that was broadcast on the day I was born."

How shameful that they didn't save it!
I know! How rude!
Like Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror is another missing story that is not so very missing in comparison with some others. Although wholly unfamiliar to me, only episodes four and five of this six-parter are missing, and if the BBC could animate two episodes to complete The Invasion, I don’t see why they couldn’t animate two episodes to complete The Reign of Terror at some point in the future. In the meantime, though, the audio recording must suffice.

The Reign of Terror, Episode 1: “A Land of Fear”

As the episode begins, Barbara and Ian are saying their goodbyes to Susan and the Doctor. They think they’ve returned to 20th century England but it’s a good thing Ian and Barbara insist upon verifying the time and place before the TARDIS leaves because they have actually arrived in 18th century France! They soon run afoul of the revolutionary government and become separated.

Cliffhanger: As Ian, Barbara and Susan are being taken to Paris for a date with “Madame Guillotine,” the Doctor finds himself trapped in a burning building!
I seem to recall particularly enjoying the novelization of this story. I shall have to dig it out, sometime.
I finished listening to “Reign of Terror” over the weekend. According to the liner notes, “Stanley Myers’ specially commissioned background music for the serial, which used harpsichord, flute, horn and percussion, aimed to reflect the mix of drama and humor in [Dennis] Spooner’s scripts. It also contained references to La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.” The soundtrack music helps immensely to convey the atmosphere of the scenes minus the visual aspect.

While on another thread I’m keeping strict track of the passage of days on Dark Shadows, I should mention that “Reign of Terror” covers four days: specifically, July 24-27, 1794. Furthermore, episode three was recorded exactly 170 years later… to the day.

My episode guide tells me that the TARDIS materialized on screen for the second time ever in this story… silently. It wasn’t until a few episodes later the now-familiar “wheezing” was added. Maybe the Doctor has been running it all these years with the brake on! “Reign of Terror” marks the end of Doctor Who’s first season. Following the transmission of the final chapter of this serial, the show went off-air for a seven week break, returning with “Planet of Giants” which is sadly not yet available on DVD. It would make an interesting comparison/comtrast with Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants, I think.

TOMORROW: "The Crusade"
I should have mentioned that linking narration is provided for "Reign of Terror" by Carole Ann Ford.
Cliffhanger: Marco Polo decides to make a gift of the TARDIS to Kublai Khan.

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately TARDIS once receive ...

I may have to pick this up.

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